A view from Staff

Opinion: The Marketing Society Forum - Has the England football team's brand been irrevocably tarnished?

A dismal performance in the World Cup, booing fans, off-pitch scandals and another foreign manager falling well short of the hype. Will a replacement brand sponsor be hard to come by?


How many kicks can the national sport take? The Lord Triesman scandal, a serious spanking by old rivals Germany at the World Cup, outspoken players and Fabio Capello's job in question.

Nationwide's 11-year sponsorship deal has ended, and although E.ON has extended its involvement for 12 months, The FA needs to find new brand partners.

The FA urgently needs a cohesive relationship with a big brand to bring the sponsorship to life.

It must drive home Wembley's brand identity (and sort out the pitch) and build excitement around England's 2018 World Cup bid.

All this requires innovative marketing that engages England supporters and interacts with them.

The FA is the world's oldest national football association. Let us not just create 'inspiring memories' at Wembley but an exciting, inspiring future for the national game.


When Capello joined England in 2007, he was applauded for introducing the values that had disappeared: pride, passion, dedication, teamwork and decorum. So, good brand values and excellent packaging, but recently the brand behaviour and the product performance have been lacking.

The players behave like animals off the pitch, and like lazy, spoilt, rich kids on it. They should be our heroes, but we view them with disdain. Their performance at the World Cup was shameful, and even the best brand cannot survive such a lacklustre effort.

So the brand has been tarnished, but not irrevocably. The brand is the clash between football and national pride - it is made not just by the players, but by the nation, too. England is built on the stiff upper lip, battling adversity, belief and passion. Dramatic changes will have to be made to the team, but supporters will stay loyal.

We will always believe, and through that belief the England brand will become strong again.


Football is cyclical, and if England storms through the Euro 2012 qualifiers, the brand will bounce back and there will be the same hype as before every major tournament. We fans are a fickle bunch, and the most beautiful thing about sport is its power of redemption.

Look at how low England's stock fell after losing to Germany in the last game at the old Wembley. See how high it soon soared after beating the auld enemy 5-1 in Munich.

Then there is the power of the Premier League. England has become the ugly sister to its domestic footballing elite. The relationship, if it hasn't permanently damaged the brand, has permanently changed the dynamic. The league takes precedence in the minds of players and fans alike. England cannot compete in terms of frequency, exposure, the warmth it inspires or, crucially, money.

It makes restoring England's reputation an increasingly difficult one. But then, as we're constantly reminded, it's a funny old game.


Tarnished? Yes. Irrevocably? No chance.

The share price of Team England has undoubtedly taken a battering of late, and a successful squad will always be a more attractive sponsorship proposition - as well as allowing The FA to charge a premium for the privilege.

That said, it's been 44 years and counting since England last delivered any real success, yet it still boasts some of the most recognisable brands in the world among its backers. Football isn't rational, and organisations recognise this. It's about hopes and dreams, passion and pride - and because of this, England will always attract supporters.

The short-term failure to fill the gap left by Nationwide is, I suspect, more to do with the performance of the economy than that of the team. Therefore, just as Capello looks to the next generation, The FA's sponsorship team should do likewise. Assuming it gets its positioning (and pricing) right, it won't have too many problems.


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